Department of Sociology

Current funded research

Brief details of current funded research activities in the Department of Sociology include those listed below. Further details can be obtained either by visiting the relevant websites or by contacting those involved in the research.

Children’s and adults’ friendships across social and ethnic difference

Dates

Start date: 1 February 2013
End date: 30 June 2015

Details

This project examines adults’ and children’s friendships in London and explores what friendships reveal about the nature and extent of ethnic diversity and social divisions in contemporary multicultural society.  The project explores the friendships adults and children make in and through primary schools. In super-diverse localities, primary schools are places where adults and children from different backgrounds are likely to meet and interact. We are interested in what adults think about their own connections and relations with other parents and their children’s friendships with their peers. The project seeks to understand how these relationships and friendships contribute to parents feeling part of - and taking part in – a school community and in how these experiences of friendship facilitate a broader sense of embedded-ness and belonging to the localities that people live in.

ESRC

http://friendshipacrossdifference.com/

Primary Investigator: Dr S Neal

Complexity of social construction

Bridging contemporary meta-theories in social sciences

Dates

Start date: 1 May 2013
End date: 30 April 2015

Details

Complexity theory and social constructionism are two important meta-theories that have evolved from very different worldviews and knowledge bases. Yet, there are some important similarities between the core arguments of the two meta-theories and these similarities are largely neglected in methodological debates. In essence, both meta-theories reject reductionist, time, space and relationship-free analyses of positivist or Newtonian social science.

While social constructionism reveals existence of multiple realities and viewpoints, history and context dependence of reality and the role of social embeddedness; complexity theory studies heterogeneous populations and the role of stochasticity, path-dependence of processes, the role of interactions and interdependencies and properties of social networks.

This project aims to initiate an international network of scholars working together to identify conflicts or differences as well as links and similarities between complexity theory and social constructionism. The network will also aim to develop a lingua franca through which some stability could be imposed on the terms in which social scientists debate these matters, so that scholars from different disciplines, in particular the early career researchers, could find their way around over crowded terminology.

 

ESRC

http://constructedcomplexities.wordpress.com/about/

Primary Investigator: Prof N Gilbert

Evolution and resilience of industrial ecosystems (ERIE)

Dates

Start date: 1 June 2010
End date: 31 May 2016

Summary

The Evolution and Resilience of Industrial Ecosystems programme (ERIE) will address a series of fundamental questions relating to the application of complexity science to social and economic systems. 

Our programme of research aims to embed cutting-edge complexity science methods and techniques within prototype computational tools that will provide policymakers with realistic and reliable platforms for strategy-testing in real-world socio-economic systems.

Funding

EPSRC

Details

Project website: 
http://erie.surrey.ac.uk/

Principal Investigator:  Nigel Gilbert
Co-Investigators:  Rebecca Hoyle (Mathematics), Anne Skeldon (Mathematics), Paul Krause (Computing), Sotiris Moschoyiannis (Computing), David Lloyd (Mathematics), Lauren Basson (CES)

Faith in policing

Dates

Start date: 1 April 2015
End date: 31 March 2016

Details

While there has been academic discussion about the impact of religion on the formation and effect of law and public policy in contemporary British society, there has been little discussion of the role of religion and faith in policing (McFadyen and Prideaux, 2013). However, a sensitivity towards religion in policing has become seen as essential for ensuring that the police service understand and respond to the concerns of faith groups - through faith-sensitive approaches to tackling crime problems - and is accountable to them. Furthermore, faith groups are increasingly seen as well positioned to understand citizens’ needs, provide a focal point around which services can be organised and delivered, and to marshal support and activity relating to crime control at the local level. Therefore, police engagement with faith groups has become seen as a way of building trust and confidence, and promoting dialogue and information exchange, in ways that are central to effective crime prevention and enforcement of the criminal law.  Although faith groups are a key facet of civil society (Putnam, 2000) and the role of faith groups in policing is enthusiastically encouraged by governments (NPIA, 2010; Home Office, 2004 & 2010), little is known about how officers understand faith and its place in policing, the needs of faith groups, or the nature of the relationship between faith groups and constabularies. It is far from clear whether officers can identify, engage with, and motivate faith groups in order to co-produce crime control. There is also scant knowledge about the factors which structure the decision-making of faith groups in respect of whether to engage with constabularies, how this decision-making might differ between faith groups, or the quality of any information exchange and dialogue between faith groups and police. Where faith groups are motivated to work with constabularies, nothing is known about the implications for and impact on the quality and equality, transparency and accountability, of crime control.

The aims of the research are:

1. To give an account of the relationship between faith groups and constabularies which explains the role played by faith groups in practices of crime control;
2. To assess how the relationship between faith groups and constabularies influences the policing of faith groups;
3. To assess the implications of the relationship between faith and policing in respect of social (in)equality and human rights;
4. To tease out the consequences for autonomy, transparency and accountability in policing; and,
5. To contribute to the development of policy and practice.

Funder: British Academy

Researchers: Karen Bullock and Paul Johnson (University of York)

From Brick Lane to Little Bangladesh: Experiences of citizenship from London to LA

Dates

Start date: 1 October 2015
End date: 30 September 2017

Details

Phillip Leverhulme Prizes recognise the achievement of early career researchers across a range of academic disciplines. The prize scheme makes up to thirty awards of £100,000 a year, a small number of which went this year to Sociology. Victoria Redclift was one of the 2014 winners on the basis of her research into the shaping of political identities in South Asia and the UK, which brings together sociology and history to understand the spatial and temporal politics of citizenship. With support from the prize she will begin a new project which develops the concept of ‘transnational political space’, examining the extent to which political identities which cross borders inform political identities within borders and drawing on a comparative analysis of Bangladesh-origin Muslims in London and Los Angeles. The research will consider how different histories of settlement, different population profiles and different local conditions/constraints affect the political identities possible in each new setting. The international comparative analysis helps capture the dynamic interactions of history and space in the shaping of political subjectivity. The project will begin in October 2015 for a period of two years.

Funder: Leverhulme Trust

Researcher: Victoria Redclift

Getting back to normal?

Patients' perceptions and experiences of recovery

Dates

Start date: 1 May 2013
End date: 30 April 2015

Details

This project will undertake a secondary analysis, using thematic and narrative approaches, of 163 qualitative interviews from four datasets. Three datasets are from the Health Experiences Research Group archive, University of Oxford, and the fourth is from the UK Burden of Injury Study. Key aims include: examination of socially constructed notions of ‘normal’ and ‘getting back to normal’ within patients’ accounts; comparison of patients’ expectations and experiences of recovery from four types of health event (heart attacks, leukaemia, serious injury requiring hospitalisation and a critical state of health requiring admission to intensive care). The research findings and implications for policy and practice will be discussed with stakeholders at a dissemination day conference held at the end of the project and disseminated via a website, conference presentations and in a range of publications for practitioner and academic audiences.

ESRC

http://www.esrc.ac.uk/my-esrc/grants/ES.K006037.1/read

Primary Investigator: Dr S Earthy

GLODERS

The Global Dynamics of Extortion Racket Systems

Dates

Start date: 1 October 2012
End date: 30 September 2015

Details

The GLODERS research project is directed towards development of an ICT model for understanding a specific aspect of the dynamics of the global financial system:Extortion Racket Systems (ERSs). ERSs, of which the Mafia is but one example, are spreading globally from a small number of seed locations, causing massive disruption to economies. Yet there is no good understanding of their dynamics and thus how they may be countered. ERSs are not only powerful criminal organizations, operating at several hierarchical levels, but also prosperous economic enterprises and highly dynamic systems, likely to reinvest in new markets.  If stakeholders - legislators and law enforcers - are to be successful in attacking ERSs, they need the much better understanding of the evolution of ERSs that computational models and ICT tools can give them.

FP7 European Commission

http://www.gloders.eu/

Primary Investigator: Prof N. Gilbert

Collaborative Investigator: Dr KA Bullock, Prof NG Fielding

Out of sight out of mind: The problem of invisibility for environmental policy

Dates

Start date: 1 April 2015
End date: 31 March 2016

Details

What impact does the invisibility of much of the natural environment and anthropogenic impacts upon it have on the construction of people’s environmental values?  This project seeks to holistically examine how people’s perceptions of different environmental issues (climate change and biodiversity loss) co-evolve in the construction of environmental values and impact their willingness to accept mitigation strategies. This is will be achieved by exploring the extent to which people recognise the link between the performance of mundane energy-consuming practices such as creating a comfortable space to live in, cleaning, organising their daily routine and communicating, with environmental degradation. In addition, it will also examine whether the highly visible nature of some low carbon energy technologies (particularly wind farms), in contrast to the largely invisible nature of traditional energy generation technologies, is a factor in determining people’s willingness to accept them, particularly when they impact upon treasured (and highly visible) landscapes. 

Funder: British Academy

Researchers: Dr Tom Roberts (PI) and Dr Sarah Bullock (research associate)

Parenting Young Offenders: Shaping and Re-Shaping Social Networks following Custody

Dates

Start date: 1 June 2015
End date: 31 December 2018

Details

The project is focused on the impacts which child custody has on the broader family post-release from prison. Using a methodological combination of in-depth interviews with parents and qualitative social network analysis, the project will investigate ways parental social networks are shaped and re-shaped as a result of having a child imprisoned, together with exploring the wider social and psychological impacts which prison resettlement has on family members related to the offender.

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council

Researchers: Daniel McCarthy, working with appointed researcher for 1 year of project.

Provision to officers and staff injured in the line of duty

Dates

Start date: 1 June 2015
End date: 1 June 2016

Summary

The Police Dependants’ Trust (PDT) provides welfare support to police officers and their families in the event than an officer is killed or seriously incapacitated while on duty. The University of Surrey has been commissioned by the PDT to undertake a one-year research project designed to assist in identifying ways of providing more support in the event of an injury or death, helping to bolster the wider police efficiency agenda.

Objectives

The research will explore the existing level of support provided following an injury on duty, as well as identifying gaps in provision. To achieve these objectives the research will:

  • Develop a map of current typical officer pathways at force level following injury whilst on duty
  • Identify key points of risk along the pathway which may create a vulnerability for either the officer, force or their dependants
  • Map the current services that are typically available to mitigate the risks at force level including identifying statutory support available
  • Identify gaps in provision which can be used to inform development of the PDT grants programme

Methodology

The project will utilise both quantitative and qualitative techniques and engage with a broad range of stakeholders, including those who have been injured on duty, to gain an in-depth understanding of their experiences around injury and the support available.

The main stages of the research will involve:

  • Desk-based research to map the level of service provision, appraise policy context and review academic and practitioner literature bases
  • Online survey of police officers, PCSOs, staff and special constables
  • Semi-structured interviews with police officers, PCSOs, staff and special constables who have experienced an injury whilst on duty

For further information about the PDT research project please contact Graham Hieke (g.hieke@surrey.ac.uk).

You can also keep up to date with progress by following the project’s Twitter account.

 Further information about Police Dependants’ Trust can be found here.

Lead Researcher

Dr Graham Hieke

Principal Investigator

Professor Nigel Fielding

Co-Investigators

Sources of Support

The research team is not able to provide advice about health care or employment matters. If you would like any further advice or support in relation to an injury at work, there are several organisations that may be able to assist you:

QLectives - Socially Intelligent Systems for Quality

Dates

Start date: 1 March 2009
End date: 28 February 2019

Summary

Using a complexity perspective, QLectives will understand, experiment with, design and build cooperative socially intelligent ICT systems composed of self-organising peers, that will enable and support emergent 'quality collectives' to enhance, for instance, scientific innovation and decentralized media distribution.

We shall bring together complex system scientists, social scientists and distributed systems engineers to produce new theories and algorithms. Our method will be that of empirical experimentation using "living labs" involving thousands of people connected over the internet into collectives. The project will generate better theoretical understanding of complex techno-social systems, and how trust and reputation may emerge among a community and used to enhance quality. The work is organised into 4 synergistic streams:
1. Theoretical and algorithmic foundations,
2. Algorithm design, simulation and evaluation,
3. Empirical data-sets collection, processing and validation,
4. Platform and living lab implementation.

As a basis we shall extend an already deployed, mature P2P technology platform and make use of two existing user communities: the econophysics forum and tribler.org. Our results will be applied to create two examples of how ICT moulds and becomes part of the systems to which it is applied: QScience - a peer-to-peer application for facilitating scientific innovation by supporting scientific communities, rating activities for quality to identify potential collaborators, hot spots and breakthroughs, and disseminating the right information to the right peers promptly; and QMedia - a peer-to-peer application for transforming media distribution by dynamically identifying shared interest communities and recommending quality contents to them using streaming media technology.

We anticipate an impact on all fields in which collective quality-ratings of contents and raters can counter an otherwise unsustainable growth in the digital information age.

Funding

European Commission, Framework 7, under the Future and Emerging Technologies programme.

Details

http://www.qlectives.eu/index.php

Investigator

Sleep during recovery from addiction

Dates

Start date: 1 October 2014
End date: 30 November 2015

Details

Funded by the British Academy, this study seeks to explore "How, why and in what ways do sleep, drug dependence and recovery interact, and with what consequences?".  Although many of these questions have been addressed by biomedical scientists, to-date their work has not been matched by any detailed sociological research. The current study rests on the idea that: (i) if we are to answer these questions, novel conceptual models are required which situate sleep, drug misuse and recovery as embodied social actions that are embedded within social contexts; and (ii) novel methods are required which recognize that sleep is a liminal state. More information can be found here  This research is now also linked to a C2D2 pump priming project (funded through York) and a PROM study.

Funder: British Academy

Researchers: Rob Meadows and Prof. Sarah Nettleton and Dr Jo Neale

Sustainable Prosperity: Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP)

Dates

Start date: 1 January 2016
End date: 31 December 2020

Details

The overall objective of CUSP is to explore the economic, environmental, social and governance dimensions of sustainable prosperity and to develop clear, pragmatic steps for enterprise, government and civil society to take, in pursuit of it.

The CUSP work programme is split into five themes (MAPPS). Theme M takes a broadly philosophical approach exploring the moral framing and contested meanings of prosperity and sustainability. Theme A explores the role of the arts and of culture in communicating sustainability and as a vital element in prosperity itself. Theme P addresses the politics of sustainable prosperity and explores the institutional shifts that will be needed to achieve it. Theme S1 focuses on the social and psychological dimensions of prosperity working with households and individuals to understand how people negotiate their aspirations for the good life. Theme S2 examines the complex dynamics of social and economic systems on which sustainable prosperity depends, addressing the challenge of achieving financial stability and high employment under conditions of constrained resource consumption.

Our specific research objectives are:
-       to examine the meanings and moral framing of the concept of sustainable prosperity
-       to explore the role of art and culture in achieving a sustainable prosperity
-     to establish the political economy of sustainable prosperity and propose concrete institutional architectures for it
-       to understand the social and psychological dimensions of people's aspirations for the good life
-    to analyse the system dynamics of an ecologically bounded macro-economy and explore viable scenarios for change

Funder: ESRC

Researchers: Prof Tim Jackson (CES), Kate Burningham (Sociology/CES), Ian Christie (CES), Angela Druckman (CES), Birgitta Gatersleben (Psychology)

Plus colleagues at: Keele University; University of Leeds; Anglia Ruskin University; Middlesex University; Goldsmiths College, University of Canterbury NZ; York University Canada; Aldersgate Group

Using longitudinal dyadic data analysis techniques to explore gender identity and sleep within couples

Dates

Start date: 1 October 2014
End date: 30 September 2015

Details

This British Academy funded Skills project will enable Rob Meadows to develop advanced analysis skills whilst exploring a substantive area. More specifically, the study will use longitudinal dyadic data analysis to explore (i) the dynamics of gender identity within heterosexual couples over time; (ii) how gender dynamics within couples over time are associated with reports of sleep.  Results will be used to engage with ideas surrounding how traditional masculinities are constructed in relation to ‘emphasized feminities’ and how they are constructed in the areas of face-to-face interactions over time.  The findings will also enable us to engage with recent sociological literature which suggests that ‘sleep’ is a gendered arena.

Funder: British Academy

Researchers: Rob Meadows, mentored by Prof. Amanda Sacker, UCL

What Works Centre in Crime Reduction

Dates

Start date: 2 September 2013
End date: 30 September 2016

Details

Investigators: Nigel Fielding, Karen Bullock and Jane Fielding

Funder: ESRC

Work has begun on the three year What Works Centre for Crime Reduction funded by the ESRC and Home Office in partnership with the College of Policing. The Centre is one of several What Works Centre instigated by the Cabinet Office to develop an evidence base for central government policy. The aim of this centre is to provide synthesis, evaluation and communication of the evidence base in support of policy implementation in the crime reduction arena. The primary customers for the outputs of the centre will be decision-makers and practitioners. Our aim to develop a strong evidence base for crime reduction and we will focus on mapping and assessing the quality of the evidence base and ranking interventions in terms of evidence strength, cost and crime reduction impact. The Centre will also include training for practitioners on evidence appraisal and an evaluation of the overall effectiveness of the Centre. The Centre, which comprises leading universities from across the UK, further seeks to position the UK as a global destination for evidence-based crime reduction training. This is an important step towards sustained improvements in the evidence base for crime reduction and its application in the public, private and voluntary sectors. Drawing on international good practice, it will build on and enhance the UK’s capacity to develop, disseminate and apply evidence-based approaches to crime reduction. Primary outputs from the centre will be tools and guidance to help decision makers and practitioners.

WHOLE-SEM

Whole Systems Energy Modelling Consortium

Dates

Start date: 1 October 2012
End date: 30 September 2016

Details

The wholeSEM consortium will make an internationally leading research impact, prioritising on key modelling areas of high relevance to interdisciplinary energy systems. The research will focus on:
1. How does energy demand co-evolve with changes in practice, supply, and policy?
2. How will the endogenous, uncertain and path dependent process of technological change impact future energy systems?
3. How can the energy supply-demand system be optimised over multiple energy vectors and infrastructures?
4. What are the major future physical and economic interactions and stresses between the energy system and the broader environment?
The consortium, funded by EPSRC under the RCUK Energy Programme, will employ extensive integration mechanisms to link and apply interdisciplinary models to key energy policy problems, with substantive bilateral engagement with stakeholders in academia, government and industry.

EPSRC

http://cress.soc.surrey.ac.uk/web/projects/75-wholesem

Primary Investigator: Prof N. Strachan (University College London)

Collaborative Investigator: Prof N Gilbert